Summer could be one of the best times for wine. Some people gravitate towards beer or soft drinks when temperatures rise, and this is completely understandable. There’s something about beer’s thirst-quenching bubbles and a soft drink’s non-alcoholic refreshment that works really well over hot grills and hamburgers. But beer or soda might not tempt you when you’re chatting on the terrazzo with friends. So how do you enjoy summer wine, and what are some good rules of thumb?
To answer the first question, when is it not time to drink wine? Yes, summer is a perfect wine time. The trick is to follow a few basic rules of thumb. Note, I said “rules of thumb,” because, as you know if you’ve been following me even for a couple of blog posts, I say there are no definitive “rules” when it comes to enjoying wine.
When it comes to summertime foods, you’ll find everything from no-cook salads and finger-food trays, to heavily grilled and sauced ribs, burgers, and steaks. Then there are the in-between foods like veggies, fish, and chicken that can be served so many different ways. So how do you choose the best wines?
Go with Lighter Wines
According to foodandwine.com, “Light whites such as Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling, chillable reds such as Beaujolais and Dolcetto, dry rosés and affordable sparkling wines like Prosecco are all perfect possibilities for summer drinking.”
But let me throw in a few more suggestions that might surprise you.
Chardonnay. Surprisingly, this heavier white wine goes well with a burger or fish off the grill. The toasty oak flavors in an oaky Chardonnay will harmonize well with similar flavors from the grill.
Syrah and Zinfandel. These heavier wines are great with BBQ fare, but they can be a bit of a challenge on a 100-degree day. Chilling them down to 60 degrees can make a huge difference.
Keep the Alcohol Content on the Lower Side
Not only can alcohol “go to your head” more quickly and easily in the summer, it can also negatively affect the taste in your glass. Wine heats up quickly on a hot day, and sometimes even throwing it in the fridge for resuscitation doesn’t help. Then you’re left with an overbearing alcohol flavor, instead of the fruitiness or citrus notes you’re looking for. Summer is a great time to experiment with rosés and sparkling wines, which tend to be lower in alcohol.
Consider wine coolers
Wine coolers, spritzers and sangrias are major fun in the summer, and are so easy to make. A wine spritzer serves the purpose of not only being the fun sip you’re looking for, but if made right can be a real thirst quencher. There are hundreds of wine cooler recipes out there, from the simplest (“add gingerale”) to real “mixologist” caliber (“add tequila,” or “Peruvian rum”). According to azcentral.com, a white wine heavier in acidity is preferred over an oaky Chardonnay, so reach for the Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. For a red-based sangria or spritzer, choose a medium-bodied Mediterranean wine, like Tempranillo or Pinot Noir.